Recently, I had a very big decision to make. A recruiter with a major, cutting edge technology company found my profile on LinkedIn and contacted me. My skills and experience matched what they were looking for to fill some positions at one of their locations. They wanted to know if I would be willing to explore the possibility of my coming to work with them.
Floored, I told them I would indeed be interested. What followed in the coming two weeks was one phone interview with the recruiter, then a series of emails back and forth. Then I had a second interview with some of the supervisors and managers at this company. Finally, I received an offer of employment.
The position would require relocation to Nevada, but the company would take care of the cost of that. They gave me a window of about six weeks in which to move myself and my family halfway across America from Montana and get started.
My wife and I discussed the possibilities at length, using Google to research the company, industry, and area. We considered our current situation and prospects, what we would be gaining and losing by either staying put or making the move. And, lastly, we consulted friends and family to ask their advice.
At long last, I decided to turn down the offer. Flattered and excited though I was, the timing was not right. My wife Lauren is due to give birth to our sixth son and seventh child right in the middle of the window the company wanted me to move in. Other considerations notwithstanding, that just did not feel a wise course.
Thanks, but no thanks; that was my reply.
Plans Are Useless, But…
The process of evaluation was still immensely helpful. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously quipped, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Prior to the recruiter contacting me, working for this company had been nowhere in my plans. Yet my planning has been for some years to try and maneuver myself into gaining skills in the oil and gas industry which transfer into other industries. Being intimately familiar now with at least one of the boom and bust cycles which oil and gas is notorious for, the value of having economic escape routes is now at the fore of my mind. This job offer represented the first real fruit of planning a few years back to try and develop backup plans. And I could not be more encouraged or excited to see that glimmer of hope that some of my planning has paid off.
Yet there is more.
Considering the possibilities of moving 1,200-miles away and starting over again, as it were, reminded my wife and I of six years ago when we made a similar decision to move 1,400-miles from Ohio to Montana so I could start working in oil and gas. That had not been a plan long before the opportunity arose either, but we are so glad we chose to pursue that. And we are so thankful God provided a way for us to get where we are today because of that move.
All of this has caused me to reflect more on the nature of change, and the necessity of trying new things and risking failure in order to grow or improve.
Twice Into The Same River
While it may be true that change is not always beneficial or wise – a fact not lost on me in my recent decision to decline the job offer in Nevada – change is nevertheless inherent to life. What in life does not change? Just think about that and see if you can answer.
I heard once that most of the cells in the human body are replaced every 7 years. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once famously said “You cannot step twice into the same river.”
There is something good and right about such truths in light of our need to embrace change.
Indeed, one of the things I told my wife as we were weighing this recent decision and thinking of all the things we would like to change about our current situation was that perhaps the blessing in disguise in this process was that we had now uncovered a number of things we could change even staying where we live now. After all, why not?
Where is it written that we need to get stuck in ruts? And when something works for a time, then ceases to, we should not hold that thing sacred unless God himself has said it must be that way.
What sort of river would stay still, keeping all its molecules static? Only a frozen river. But then we could not swim in it, nor could the fish and other animals. And we could not go boating on that river, and it would not take us anywhere. Flowing rivers stay fresh, and still waters grow stagnant.
Just so, where would our bodies be if the cells did not replace themselves, especially when they wore out and broke down? Yet God made our bodies able to heal, grow, and replenish for our benefit.
To Swear Off Change Is To Begin To Die
I think the big things that make people averse to change are fear and comfort. And sometimes comfort loathes change because change might mean less comfort. And sometimes we are afraid that to change may bring pain and failure.
Yet we cannot grow and learn without risking failure, or being willing to accept that we do not know something which might be useful for us to learn. We cannot improve if we insist we have already attained perfection and completeness.
If I had been more afraid of failure than change, I would never have left Hillsboro, Ohio to come find a job in the oilfields of Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota six years ago. But then I would not have made all the money I made, or seen all the beautiful country I have driven around in on a daily basis, or met all the wonderful people (and others who were not-so wonderful, I admit) we have met and gotten to know out here.
Four years ago last month, Lauren and I bought our first home and moved into it with our five young children; now here we sit, waiting for the arrival of our seventh child in a few short weeks. How many of those children would be here if we had avoided change for fear of failure and a temporary lessening of comfort? And would you or I even be here if our parents had loved comfort and sameness more than the wonderful possibilities our conception, birth, and raising represented?
Change is a necessary part of life, and it always has been. To swear off change is to begin to die.
I Got Closer In Trying
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, ESV)
What does that point to, except that God is engaged in plans much bigger and better than we can ask or imagine? And we should count on his plans requiring us at many points to change our plans to the point that we plan on his changing our plans.
I think of learning to hunt as well. That is something I have been meaning to write about for a few years now. Or I think of attempting to climb Granite Peak with the men of our church last Fall. Neither of these things were particularly comfortable; neither represented sameness with my experience before. Up until a few years ago, I had never been hunting before; and I have still never climbed mountains, though I got closer in trying than I ever had before in not trying.
God has taught me things through those uncomfortable experiences, and through change. The enigma is how comforting uncomfortable lessons can become when God is teaching you and you want to learn.
Change can be frightening and traumatic when we believe events are out of control. Yet change can be approached with calm resolution when we remember how God is Sovereign. No change is outside the scope of his good plans for his children.
Thank God for change.